Kairo The Native Artist
Kairo The Native Artist

Kairo the Naive Artist


Kairo (Kairi Kliimand) is a painter and street artist living in Tartu, Estonia. She was born in 1986. Although never wanting to become an artist, she recognized early on the deep satisfaction art could bring. She studied languages and literature at the University of Tartu.

After a month-long hitchhiking trip around Europe with a friend in 2006, she felt the unexpected need to draw onto paper some of her visions of the psilocybin powered journeys experienced at Amsterdam’s Westerpark, where travelers and drifters were watched over by wild rabbits and tame policemen.

Then in 2009, her self-taught artistic practice really began. While selling ice cream at a shopping center, she noticed the colored papers, fine brushes and gouache paint on offer at a back to school fair. Unable to suppress her appetite, she bought some art supplies and began drawing daily on her narrow counter top. Sometimes painting on cardboard from boxes of waffle cones, she experimented with various single color characters that were like illustrations to nonexistent stories.

Kairo’s first exhibition was organized with a friend as more of a joke, an excuse to have a party at an emptied out apartment. That was when she sold her first drawing and started to get the sense that perhaps others, too, might value her work.

In parallel to painting on canvases, she entered the world of street art guided by artists Edward von Lõngus and Mina Ja Lydia. She started out with stencils and spray paint. She used the alias Sorro to propagate entomophagy and create versions of Estonian artists’ work. Examples included Eduard Wiiralt and Paul Kondas. She soon felt constrained by the stencil medium and gradually shifted to using acrylic paint and brushes to paint on utility boxes just as she would on canvases. For her, creating simplified portraits of mostly women accompanied by lush vegetation was a kind of illegal community service — gifts that nobody asked for but nonetheless seemed to be well received by the neighborhood.

Kairo has appeared in numerous group exhibitions and has held several solo exhibitions. In 2014, she was included as a pair of two artists in an exhibition offering an overview of the Tartu art scene held in Tallinn Art Hall and titled Väljasõit Rohelisse, Tartu 1860–2014 with works from both Kairo the street artist and the painter. In 2016, Kairo was the only female artist to represent her country in an exhibition of Estonian street art titled From Estonia with Love. This exhibition was organized as a joint effort between the French gallery La Popartiserie in Strasbourg and the Estonian Ministry of Culture.

In 2019 following an invitation to join the Tartu Artists’ Union, Kairo held her first institutional solo exhibition at Tartu Art House in the form of a ten year retrospective titled Summer in the City. During the month-long event, she live painted her largest canvas, a family portrait, while interacting with guests and even spending some nights in a tent at the gallery (for maximum concentration). In 2020, she opened a dream solo exhibition, Treatment of Strawberry Mania, at the Kondas Centre art museum.

Soon after, Kairo was offered a stage design project at Tartu New Theatre. It was an exciting challenge for the artist to co-create a painting on a large plywood construction with producer Kadri Noormets and all of the actors while they were developing the new production right beside and around her.

Kairo has illustrated two books, a collection of poetry by Lauri Leet and an Estonian translation by Lauri Sommer of Richard Brautigan’s novel So the Wind Won’t Blow It All Away. In addition, her works have been accepted for several young art auctions starting from 2010, and she is a regular at the annual Stencibility street art festival.

Charities supported by the artist

SOS Children’s Village

Children’s Foundation

Works by this artist

Cave In

Kairo the Naive Artist



The Wait

Kairo the Naive Artist



Party With Red Cow

Kairo the Naive Artist



Water From the Heavens

Kairo the Naive Artist